On knowing your coin…

Aside from books, I’m not a particularly avid collector of many things. One exception is Fostoria’s coin pattern glassware. My first pieces were bits from home. I suspect they were mostly things my mother was mostly tired of dusting around and ended up with me because I’m a soft touch for whatever object comes along with a family connection.

Over time, I’ve added to those first three pieces pretty steadily – maybe a piece or two a year as I find them. Coming across new bits for the collection “in the wild” is more entertaining for me than bulk auction buys. I’m not in a hurry to complete a set, so it’s largely a case of adding what I find when I find them.

This past weekend, in recognition of the impromptu three day weekend, I seemed to come across pieces of coin pattern in every shop I walked into. I was awash in an ocean of the stuff. Usually I’d say that’s a good problem to have.

Unfortunately, there was a problem with every single piece I picked up. Fifty percent of it was “reproduction,” or more precisely legitimate pieces made not by Fostoria, but more recently by Lancaster Colony. It’s still nice stuff, but my collection is focused on earlier pieces so I left all of those where I found them. Some of the examples were reproductions pretending to be vintage – their coins sandblasted or acid etched to give the illusion of proper frosting on the coins themselves. Those are always a hard pass.

The real killers were the ones that didn’t fall into either of those categories – and they were correspondingly harder not to bring home with me. These were the original bowls paired with “fake” lids or original lids paired with fake bowls. They were probably the most disappointing of all, since they were in a couple of the harder to find color options. Still, I left them alone, as trying to find the right replacement lid or bowl on its own could take years, if it ever came along at all.

Why am I telling you this? Just a reminder, I guess, that if you’re going to be a collector of anything, knowing a bit about it besides “looks pretty on a shelf” is in order. Otherwise I could have spent a few hundred dollars last Friday and come home with a dozen things that looked like they should fill holes in the collection, but really didn’t. I’ve no idea how that applies to anyone or anything else, but it feels like a decent enough life tip.

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